Among Ulick O'Connor's prodigious literary output as biographer, playwright, literary historian and critic, he is of course a poet. Since his first book of poems Life Styles appeared in 1973 he has been writing and publishing, albeit intermittently, memorable poetry for more than four decades. His engagement with his subject matter, his deft use of form, craft and above all lyricism, define these poems and make it a pleasure to rediscover them or encounter them for a first time. In a judicious selection, they are gathered here along with his translations from numerous languages, including his exceptional renderings of Baudelaire and more recent poems that have appeared in journals over the past decade.
Ulick O'Connor's first book of poems Life Styles was published by Hamish Hamilton and Dolmen Press in 1975. He went on to write five others among them All Things Counter (1985), and One is Animate (1990). His translations of Baudelaire were published by Wolfhound Press in 1995. It received an outstanding reception and Michel Déon of Académie Francaise wrote in introducing it:
'The poem is reborn before our very eyes and is music to our ears, not translated but recreated. I am rendered speechless. The poet O'Connor offers to the poet Baudelaire an unparalleled "treasure".'
Ulick O'Connor is also noted for his verse plays in the Noh form. He was guest of the Japanese Government in 1995 when he went out to work with the Japanese National Theatre. His best known work in this form Deirdre was revived this year and played alongside Yeats 'Deirdre' in the National Library celebrations of the poet's work.
Ulick O'Connor's books include biographies of Oliver St. Gogarty, Brendan Behan and the highly successful Celtic Dawn, a portrait of the Irish Literary Renaissance. The Ulick O'Connor Diaries published in 2001 by John Murray London were much praised by English critics, the Times (London) comparing him to Boswell. His successes as a playwright include Execution, described by the Evening Standard as "dynamite"; Joyicity by the New York Times as "supreme", and his duo about Oscar Wilde, A Trinity of Two as "elegant, probing and beautiful" (The Stage).